Two agendas

The duality, in which we are caught between the official version and the on-the-street reality, also characterizes the demands emerging from this Island.  The list of what we hope for is divided into two different agendas, as dissimilar as they are conflicting.  The first, the government’s list, includes strong declarations calling for the release of the five Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States and has, among its major points, the extradition of Posada Carriles, who is accused of having blown up a plane in 1976.  The official line is that it’s not enough for Obama to close the prison at the Guantánamo base, but he must also return the territory to Cuba and, obviously, there is a section, highlighted in red, about ending the U.S. blockade.

You can read something else if you look at the list of the people’s wishes.  On the first lines there’s the question of what have been called “structural reforms” about which they talked so much two years ago.  One repeated request, to remove the straitjacket on economic initiatives of the people, also would be among the most visible.  With the chipped pencil of waiting we have written, on several pages of this virtual agenda, the need to eliminate the restrictions on entering and leaving the country, the desire for free association, the choice of what creed we raise our children in, and the need to earn salaries in the same money in which most products are sold.  All this and more would be on the frayed list of citizens’ aspirations, if someone would like to browse through it.

The same applies to the official document on human rights which is being presented today at the Human Rights Council.  A fictional summary of what we have—read through rose-tinted glasses and the triumphalist glossary—that is so far, light years away, from what we live.  The work of skilled writers, and so it must be read, like the fictional text of certain authors who avoid writing the log—the real one—of the shipwreck.

Translator’s note: The sign in the empty window reads, “Promotions”

129 thoughts on “Two agendas

  1. The United States government’s embargo has had little effect on the Cuban economy, since it only represents 6% of Cuba’s commerce with the rest of the world. The embargo only affects the American companies and their subsidiaries. The rest of the countries, a 180 since the last count in 2007, and companies are free to conduct business with Cuba and are doing so, as confirmed by imports surpassing $10.00 billions during 2007. In reality there is not such embargo since in the year 2000 the United States Congress lifted the prohibition of the sale of agricultural products and medicines to Cuba, thereby allowing Castro’s regime to buy everything it needs.

    From December 2001 up to December 2007, the Castro’s regime had signed contracts for more than $2.00 billions with American companies for the purchases of their products. The U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, based on analysis of official figures of the Castro’s regime, has estimated the import of U.S. agricultural products in $437 millions during 2007. Cuba’s National Statistics Office ( placed the United States as Cuba’s fifth business partner at $582 million in 2007.

    What the Castro’s regime really wants are loans and lines of credit guaranteed by the U.S. Treasury Department, since it doesn’t have hard currency to pay the interests on the lines of credit for the importation of merchandise. These credits will not be paid and the American taxpayers will be the losers, the ones to pick up the debt, as it happens at the present time with the taxpayers of Spain, Argentina, Canada, Venezuela and other countries. Cuba currently owes $22 billion to the old Soviet Union and another $36 billion to other countries for a staggering debt of $58 billions

    Cuban economy’s bankruptcy is the sole responsibility of Castro’s regime. Under this system the economy will continuous to slowly deteriorate without any hope of improvement. The economy is closely linked to the social development and standard of living of the Cuban people, which make very difficult the improvement of those under the existing regime.

    Cuba’s problems are not the result of the embargo; they are due to the corruption and ineffectiveness of a system that is against private property and free enterprise. These and no others are the real reasons of the problems. Lifting the embargo and travel ban, without meaningful changes in Cuba, will:

    Guarantee the continuation of the current totalitarian structures.

    Strengthen state enterprises, since money will flow into businesses owned by the Cuban government.

    Lead to greater repression and control since Castro and the leadership will fear that U.S. influence will subvert the revolution.

    Delay instead of accelerate a transition to democracy on the island.

  2. Economic crisis and total control of information are taking a toll in the lives of the Cuban people. It is evident that there exists a conflict between the interests of those that govern and the governed. It will be argued that in order to reach a final solution, compromise must exist between the interests of the Cuban government and its people. This compromise could be created through the granting of a valid political voice and vote to the people. However, this is not currently the case in Cuba.
    An interesting event that confirms this statement, was the 2002 amendment made to the Cuban Constitution. Following article 88 of the 1976 Cuban constitution, more than 10,000 Cuban citizens properly identified as legal voters proposed the Varela Project. This project focused on democratic reforms such as freedom of speech, press and association, etc. Legal procedures were correctly followed forcing the Cuban National Assembly to take the proposal into account. In response, the Constitution and Legal Affairs Committee of the Cuban National Assembly decided to make a radical amendment to the Constitution stating the irrevocable socialist nature of the nation. This change hindered any other democratic proposal for the years to come.
    It is important to stress the process of this amendment’s adoption. A large majority of the Cuban population signed this amendment proposal without knowledge of its purpose. The Varela Project was never mentioned in the Cuban media. Cuban citizens were told that their signature was needed in order to support the Cuban Revolution. To the people, these bureaucratic procedures were not any different to any other procedures used to validate political directions. Those not signing were against what everyone was doing; they can be considered to be against the revolution, so they signed. As a result the whole project was dismissed. This new Constitution release was a fatal strike against Cubans already constrained democratic freedoms. The real fatal consequence of this change was making disappear any possible communication channel between a government and its people. These two agendas would never become one as a result of this lack of communication. It was made clear with that action, that laws approved by the Cuban National Assembly would be those proposed by its own members, dismissing any other proposal made by its people. That is how “democracy” is performed in Cuba nowadays.

  3. I graduated from the University of Havana, just like Yoani apparently did with a major in Math and Computer Science, and I now live in the US (the monster). I am doing very well, and have never struggled. However, I now know what Marti said “vivi en el monstruo y le conozco las entranas”.

    Vivan las conquistas del socialismo!

  4. Here is what I think we can all do to help this bills pass

    Email or write to your congress person and senator about your approval of this bills.

  5. Let me see if I understand correctly both bills

    One bill is proposing the elimination of all travel restrictions
    and the other is eliminating the embargo.

    Is my assessment correct?

    If this is gets to be reality I think Cuba will be free soon!

    Maybe soon we will be able to say

    “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”


    1ST SESSION H. R. 188
    To lift the trade embargo on Cuba, and for other purposes.
    JANUARY 6, 2009

    A BILL
    To lift the trade embargo on Cuba, and for other purposes.
    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa2
    tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
    This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Cuba Reconciliation Act’’.

    •HR 188 IH

    (a) AUTHORITY FOR EMBARGO.—Section 620(a) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2370(a)) is repealed.

    (b) TRADING WITH THE ENEMY ACT.—The authori ties conferred upon the President by section 5(b) of the Trading with the Enemy Act, which were being exercised with respect to Cuba on July 1, 1977, as a result of a national emergency declared by the President before that date, and are being exercised on the day before the effective date of this Act, may not be exercised on or after such effective date with respect to Cuba. Any regulations in effect on the day before such effective date pursuant to the exercise of such authorities, shall cease to be effective on such date.

    Any common carrier within the meaning of section 3 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 153) is authorized to install, maintain, and repair telecommunications equipment and facilities in Cuba, and otherwise provide telecommunications services between the United States and Cuba. The authority of this Section includes the authority to upgrade facilities and equipment.

    SEC. 4. TRAVEL.
    (a) IN GENERAL.—Travel to and from Cuba by individuals who are citizens or residents of the United States, and any transactions ordinarily incident to such travel, may not be regulated or prohibited if such travel would be lawful in the United States.

    The United States Postal Service shall take such actions as are necessary to provide direct mail service to and from Cuba, including, in the absence of common carrier service between the 2 countries, the use of charter providers.

  7. 111th CONGRESS
    1st Session
    H. R. 874

    To allow travel between the United States and Cuba.


    February 4, 2009

    Mr. Delahunt (for himself, Mr. Flake, Ms. DeLauro, Mrs. Emerson, Mr. McGovern, Mr. Moran of Kansas, Ms. Edwards of Maryland, Mr. Paul, and Mr. Farr) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

    A BILL

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

    SECTION 1. Short title.

    This Act may be cited as the “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act”.

    SEC. 2. Travel to Cuba.

    On and after the date of the enactment of this Act, and subject to section 3—

    (1) the President may not regulate or prohibit, directly or indirectly, travel to or from Cuba by United States citizens or legal residents, or any of the transactions incident to such travel; and

    (2) any regulation in effect on such date of enactment that regulates or prohibits travel to or from Cuba by United States citizens or legal residents or transactions incident to such travel shall cease to have any force or effect.

    SEC. 3. Exceptions.

    Section 2 shall not apply in a case in which the United States is at war with Cuba, armed hostilities between the two countries are in progress, or there is imminent danger to the public health or the physical safety of United States travelers.

    SEC. 4. Applicability.

    This Act applies to actions taken by the President before the date of the enactment of this Act that are in effect on such date of enactment, and to actions taken on or after such date.

    SEC. 5. Inapplicability of other provisions.

    The provisions of this Act apply notwithstanding section 102(h) of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (22 U.S.C. 6032(h)) and section 910(b) of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7210(b)).

  8. I won’t comment on the article, its contents, etc etc… but I will say that just because I feel like it, I have translated it and will post it shortly in the sidebar under “articles and other stuff” or whatever I called that little section.

    I do know that (or at least I heard from a source I respect though not from Yoani herself) that the articles in El Mercurio ARE written by Yoani… it’s not someone pretending to be her. I just took it off the Mercurio site to translate, though — no one sent it to me and said please translate this.

    So… I’m letting the translation sit for an hour or two and then I’ll recheck it and post it. it’s long and sometimes I find stupid mistakes so I prefer to let it ‘rest’ a bit before posting, to be able to look at it with a fresh eye. (After which there may still be stupid mistakes… but that’s what all you readers are for!)

  9. Raul Castro is making his rounds around the world begging for help, (money and credit) so far so good, many of the countries he visited are taking his bite.

    The following is part of an article published by Jordi Zamora/El Nuevo Herald.

    La visita a Moscú fue la tercera salida al extranjero de Castro desde que asumió el poder en julio del 2006. Antes viajó a Venezuela y en diciembre pasado, a Brasil.

    Se trató también de la segunda visita a Moscú en más de veinte años, durante la cual Raúl Castro y su anfitrión Dmitri Medvedev volvieron a interpretar viejos roles, como la habitual partida de caza de la época soviética.

    Pero en realidad ”Cuba necesita desesperadamente toda la ayuda extranjera y los créditos que pueda obtener”, cree Jaime Suchlicki, profesor del Instituto para Estudios Cubanos de la Universidad de Miami, en un reciente estudio.

  10. Did anyone else look at the link provided by the anonymous poster #110 who linked to the El Mercurio article written by Yoani?

    El Mercurio is considered the leading conservative newspaper in Chile. What’s interesting is that in the article Yoani is openly (though mildly) critical of President Michele Bachelet’s decision to not meet or have her officials meet with Cuban opposition groups during her recent visit to Cuba. Not that Bachelet doesn’t deserve to be criticized for this failure, but I’m a bit surprised that Yoani would insert herself into something that is bound to cause a political stir during an election year in Chile.

    Another curious thing is the timing. In my admittedly quick review of the UN webcast, Chile seemed to be the only South American country that was openly critical of Cuba’s human rights record during the February 5 review before the UN Human Rights Council (not that Yoani would know this given internet restrictions in Cuba). Finally, I’m reminded of Yoani’s admonition to not trust anything that is either not published or linked to on the blog with red drawer. But perhaps the article just hasn’t been posted to her blog yet.

    Perhaps our friendly English translator or someone else could shed some light on this.

  11. Hey Rene gracias por el video me gusto!

    La cancion me recuerda las palabras de mi madre que me dicia que deberiamos agradecer a Fidel estar en este grandioso pais!

    Rene, thanks for the video I like it!
    It reminds me of my mother who used to tell me that we should thank Fidel Castro for being in this wonderful country!

  12. silent voice=======tank you fidel ======me despido de blog======en el espanol me tiene censurado =

  13. I am curious about some of the people posting here I do not have any problem revealing my full info I will understant if some of you do not feel comfortable sharing your personal info.

    My name is Julio de la Yncera came to the US from Cuba in 1989 and live in Maryland
    Original from Consolacion del Sur in Pinar del Rio.
    Used to be a Math teacher in Cuba, here in the US have being for a long time a Computer Programmer.

    I realize a long time ago with Yoani that we need to loose our fears.
    If she is has the valor of doing this from Cuba why should I stop myself from doing it from here?

    Of course her valor is infinitely greater than mine.

    It is indescribable to think that people like Yoani really exist!
    I am reminded of the words of the pope John Paul II talking to the Cuban people.

    “Do not be afraid”

    Remember that what keeps them in power is our own fear.

    If we loose the fear then it will be them who have too fear!

    Care to join Yoani?

  14. SILENT==VOICE =====THIS NOT CUBA I HOPE ====you want to silent my voice remenber born a free man i do not live in cuba==

  15. Rene, tu hablas espanol solamente?
    Si solo hablas espanol entonces pon tu post en el lado espanol pues muchos a casi la mayoria que aqui vienen solo hablan ingles

    Rene, do you only speak spanish?
    If you only speak spanish then you should continue posting on the spanish side of this blog since the majority that come here only speak english.

  16. fidel castro y raul no son comunista ellos son CAPITALISTA y facista son dueno de un isla decen de cuenta
    los comunista son los cubanos esclavo que trabaja para los amo de la isla que son los castro en el siglo xxi tiene esclavo
    y los a tenido por 50 anos =======nosotro somo los esclavo que no liberamo de ellos por eso nos llama gusano la mafia de miami contra revolucionario por que no fuimo su esclavo


  17. @ Andy on #94

    “We have REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY first, for the practical considerations. The “let someone else do it and if we don’t like what they do we’ll kick ‘em out” consideration.”

    Andy I will have to say from my experience in the US a few things

    I notice that this politicians get elected and re elected every time and it is very hard to get an incumbent out of office. I have extreme dislike for career politician because that is what the Castros are. Plus I believe is always good to have fresh blood with new ideas and less of a chance to get corrupted.

    Let us look at people like Ted Stevens(Senator from Alaska) here and the others cough on corruption charges and I will say the main reason is because they are in hight power for way too long and they get to feel like the law does not apply to them. That is why I believe there should exist term limits for all government elected positions no matter how good you are.

    I do still think that we should have some power back. For example I believe we should be able to tell the government how much money they should have to expend and on what since it is our money.
    Maybe there should be a ballot were we enter what percent we want allocated for defense, police, education , infrastructure, research etc and let each one of us make that kind of decision.

    That way we maybe able to eliminate some of the interest groups around Washington lobbying government for their own sake. There is too much of an opportunity for corruption to show up there in a system like that.


  19. Nagy on #103

    I remember reading with surprise that during the American revolution Benjamin Franklin’s son did not take the side of his father but actually return to England.
    Therefore unfortunately it is normal I think that families get divided by very strong political positions.
    When we left Cuba we did not tell my father. Since at that moment he was very much with the government.
    I am sure they are many other families with the same situation. Even Castro’s family. His daughter is in the US and his sister Juanita.

    It is very sad when family that is your own blood will not share the same ideas as you do.

  20. Andy on #104

    Correct in all points.

    The Cuban government use to tell those things to all of us. I remember when we went to the American Interest Section (American Embassy in Cuba) for the visa there was this older mulatto (50 to 60 age) who thought I was Cuban-American asking me if there was any racism here! If suppose if you check the Cuban population that have arrive to this country is probably majority white.
    I imagine now how difficult will be for the Castros to explain that in such a “racist country” as they have describe the US to them there is a black president!

    As for the comments on Capitalism you have made
    I do agree with the majority but I do think that big corporations are too similar to big government and to socialism for my taste. I will go further. The reason we are in the economical mess we are is because of big corporations.
    If GM was not as big as it is we could just let it fail. If the banks that got in trouble were not as big as they are we could just let them fail.
    But since they are so big let it them fail means a lot to the whole economy and therefore we should not let them fail!
    So this big corporations make capitalism not work its own magic self healing. Ergo the government needs to step in.

    How big should a company be?
    I think it depends on how much competition it has. If a company does not have a lot of competition in its main field then is too big. Allowing monopoly or close to monopoly as we all know is the worst kind of capitalism. That is exactly what they have in Cuba “State monopoly capitalism”.

  21. English Translator to #99 dice: 7 Febrero 2009 a las 20:23

    OK — I will be the 100th comment!!!!!!!! How exciting!

    Congratulations #100…….. who better than you!!!!!!

    If I could I would give you a Dodge 09 Charger SRT8……….but…….. we are in crisis!!!!

    Again, who better than you…… thank you because your work make possible this blog.

  22. Nagy — interesting you should comment about your grandparents ignoring the evidence of their own eyes… you standing in front of them… in the face of decades of indoctrination.

    I’ve read, but don’t know from my own experience, that when Cuban exiles were finally allowed to go back to Cuba and visit their relatives is when things started to fall apart for the regime in terms of people’s belief in it. The government had been telling them that all the letters their relatives sent were full of lives… that the photos of them standing in front of “their houses” with “their cars” etc were all lies… staged by the imperialist enemy to fool them… that really their relatives were starving in America. But… then the relatives showed up… fat, happy and loaded down with gifts….

    And you’re right — how sad that families allow themselves to end up an either side of any divide, unable to bridge it.

  23. Carlos is free to no longer post on the English language blog (comment #78), but I want him to know that it was his comment #22 that finally convinced me to post here after lurking for a few months. With the deepest of respect Carlos reminds me of my dear Dad who passed away a few years ago.

    Of all of the evils of totalitarianism perhaps the greatest is how it divides families, and I don’t mean only in the physical sense. I’m reluctant to divulge too many personal details because they’re still painful. Suffice it to say, only when I visited in the mid 80s did I understand why my parents refused to return to Hungary until their parents had passed on (which was well after 1989). The Communist regime (probably as a safety valve) made it actually quite easy for rank and file participants in the 1956 uprising to leave the country in the months immediately after it was crushed. My parents left but my grandparents refused. It was a disturbing recognition to discover how my grandparents had internalized the lies and propaganda of the regime about the “evils” of the West, even when they had evidence to the contrary (me) standing right in front of them.

  24. HR 874 has already been introduced in The US Senate to recind the restrictions of US citizens to Cuba. Four Democrats and four Republicans have signed on, Ron Paul being the most noteable, having run for US President with a strong following.
    This was not reported any where in US by MSM and Havana Times is the only place this was reported.
    MSM in US sucks. Best Wishes poster and here’s to a free Cuba.

  25. Woops… in fact Spanish is my 4th language… I forgot one… (which is fine since I’ve mostly forgotten it anyway… Latin is my third language… but now it just kind of rolls into the other languages…) (In case anyone’s wondering, French is my second language.)

Comments are closed.